Having completed Year 10 in the Australian schooling system, Ebru was forcibly married to a man 10 years her senior and sent to Turkey, where her family had migrated from years earlier.
During this time, Ebru found solace in her Uncle’s hair salon in Istanbul.
The comforting smell of fresh baguettes wafted through the air, the tea brewed hot and Turkish coffee was poured, ready to lubricate secrets and stories, relieving clients of their burdens.
“There wasn’t a lot of happiness in my household growing up, so to be in this happy place was just wonderful,” recalls Ebru.
One of the first women to attempt and survive a divorce from an arranged marriage in Turkey, Ebru returned to Australia to set up her first hair and beauty salon, Saks Salons.
Her story is featured in the final episode in this season of ‘Paper Cuts’ a five-part podcast series brought to you by Officeworks.
Hosted by business coach and author Jason Cunningham, the series deep dives into the lessons you can learn from the success, and failures, of other small business owners.
The location of Ebru’s first salon was a notorious black spot, with numerous hairdressers unable to make a go of it before her.
But Australia was in recession, and Ebru saw an opportunity.
“When people don’t have a lot of money, they go out and spend a little money to feel good. And that’s exactly what happened. I just thrived there,” says Ebru.
Ebru Sak with her latest venture, Fast & Fabulous
It was around this time that she stumbled across the idea for DUO, a matching lipstick and lipliner combination inspired by her time on photoshoots doing hair and makeup.
No one loves, lives and breaths your business the way you do, and the time focused on her new venture meant time away from the salon. She wasn’t there for her customers and the staff weren’t looking after them with the same unique devotion.
The decision was made to sell the salon.
“There’s a lot of things I know now that I didn’t know then, and one of them is to have a system in place. The right support in place. It was my greatest learning experience in small business,” says Ebru.
For Ebru, hairdressing isn’t just about the technical side of things, but also the interpersonal.
“To actually be able to read people, their energies or where they are at in life, and to mould your customer service to suit them individually rather than they are all a number, it takes a lot of experience and skill to do that. You’ve got to tune in,”
“Listening is an art. I have clients that have lost someone close or are going through a rough patch. You’ve got to be able to read that. To me, my client is not a transaction, it’s an experience,” says Ebru.
Ebru personifies her brand, and her authenticity and capacity for empathy can arguably be attributed to the trauma she herself has endured.
Trauma she has moved forward from, with steely determination and courage.
All vital traits for any successful entrepreneur.
With her second marriage deteriorating, her father on his deathbed, and a two and four year old in tow, it was time to decide whether to be a single mom, or continue pretending everything was ok.
Ebru printed 500 letters, put them in letter boxes around the neighbourhood, and in the space of 24 months grew from zero to 160 customers.
These days, her second incarnation of Saks Salons is a thriving mecca of beauty in Melbourne’s north.
As well as DUO, she owns Marquage (Mak – ee – ajj), a beauty kit designed to help busy women face the world in 60 seconds and is about to launch Fast & Fabulous.
Although her dream of being a doctor never came to fruition, Ebru reconciles this with her trademark candour and optimism.
“My dream ended. But I did fall into hairdressing which I think is the next best thing. I love it. I still wear disposable gloves, and I still cut! And the counselling comes for free,” she laughs.
Marriage through a different lens.
Ebru Sak is not your usual hairdresser.
Marriage though a different lens. Captive to captivating. (Feb 2019)